Technology is rapidly evolving and for small business owners it can be a struggle to understand, monitor and apply the changes to benefit your business. Despite this, taking the approach that technology is ‘just a fad’ isn’t a successful strategy. When utilised and embraced correctly, technology can influence and impact on a business in many positive ways.
I’ve come across many small business owners converting to the Cloud and implementing other technology enhancements to help their business. One particular business owner was typically always late with having their year-end accounts prepared – sometimes having them prepared 10 months after the fact. They only ever used their accounting software to process data once a month. They were a typical ‘bricks and mortar’ store and did not have a website. So for them, embracing technology has made a big difference in the following ways.
Real-time adjustments to the business
Since implementing Cloud Accounting, the business owner can now access their financial information in real time and are able to monitor how they are tracking against their key performance indicators on a daily basis. As they are looking at live data they have improved cash flow and have a better understanding of trends and factors that influence their business. Embracing technology meant they could spend more time ‘on the floor’ speaking with customers about why they like their products.
Technology can impact a business in many positive ways
Becoming more efficient, saving time and money
A great example of an efficiency which many small business owners have adopted is to take photos of all receipts for their business expenses as soon as they receive them and with a click of a button attach them to the individual transaction on their Cloud accounting file. They no longer need to keep hard copies of faded receipts. Specialised apps or websites allowing your customers to book or order from you on their mobile device removes the risk of human error when taking orders and frees your staff up to work on other things.
Connecting and engaging with customers on their terms
Connecting and engaging with customers has never been easier. Research tells us that customers want to engage with business on their terms and this could mean any time of day and any day of the week. By opening up their products online and allowing customers to order their goods through the website our client is now able to reach a new client base that was not able to visit their store. This turned into increased revenue and a broadening of their revenue sources, reducing the reliance on foot traffic.
Social media allows small businesses to advertise and engage with potential customers when they may not otherwise have been able to compete with the dollars involved in radio or TV advertising. A quick scroll through your Facebook feed will result in links to businesses, and what’s more the businesses advertised are usually relevant for where you are currently located. This type of market segmentation where you can target users based on their location and profile is valuable when you are a small business trying to reach the right target audience.
Customers want to engage with business on their terms
Getting started is easy
With the vast array of technology now available it’s understandable that any sort of technology decision can be overwhelming and if not done correctly, can be expensive for a business. It’s important that owners understand how technology can benefit their business and how to harness its power.
Here is a 5 point plan to get you on the right path:
- Look at what bugs you about your business or the way things get done.
- Talk to your business adviser about what technology ideas will address these issues.
- Find a business doing things with technology and ask them how they got started.
- Create a plan which prioritises the technology based on the impact it will have on customers and how they purchase, efficiencies and the cost/time to implement.
- Decide what you will tackle first.
This article was co-authored by Lauren Brooks